Maple Leaf Rag : Work information
- Work name
- Maple Leaf Rag
- Work number
- 1899-01-01 02:01:00
- Recording date
Born in Texas to two musical parents, the young Scott Joplin spent his time playing piano in the white-owned house where his mother worked as a housekeeper. He taught himself the rudiments of music and through his mother's efforts received lessons from various local teachers, one of whom he corresponded with throughout the rest of his life. In the early 1890's Joplin formed a vocal group and together they toured the midwest and west of America, after which he left home for St Louis. While organising a band and performing at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he met ragtime pianist Otis Saunders, who inspired him to write down his compositions for the first time. To gain further technical facility, he enrolled in 1895 at George R. Saunders College in Sedalia, Missouri. That same year his first pieces were published; by 1899 he had published his Maple Leaf Rag and was widely known as the 'King of Ragtime'.
In 1900 Joplin moved with his publisher John Stark back to St Louis, where he directed Stark's opera company. Further rags such as The Entertainer (1902) added to Joplin's fame and he frequently collaborated with other ragtime artists. Turning his attentions to larger scale works, The Ragtime Dance (1906) was an extended choreographed work and in 1903 he completed a ragtime opera, A Guest of Honour, although the score was lost in unclear circumstances. After following Stark to New York in 1907, a disagreement between the two led to Joplin founding his own publishing concern in order to bring out his own works, including the opera Treemonisha (1911). His obsession with the work, particularly in securing it an adequate performance, hastened his untimely death. He left incomplete a symphony based on his beloved ragtime.
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